Set in the turbulent ‘60s each character in Across the Universe represents a different aspect to the unstable times. There’s naïve Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) whose eyes are opened to the possibilities of life beyond her WASPy sheltered upbringing; adventurous Jude (Jim Sturgess) who breaks away from his Liverpool working-class roots to make it as an artist in New York; and Lucy’s brother Max (Joe Anderson) a college dropout who eventually gets drafted and sent to Vietnam. There’s also Sadie (Dana Fuchs) a Janis Joplin-esque rock singer; her guitar-playing lover Jo-Jo (Martin Luther McCoy) who hails from the riot-torn streets of Detroit; and even a burgeoning lesbian named Prudence (T.V. Carpio). They are all soon swept up into the '60s' emerging psychedelic anti-war and counterculture movements while Across the Universe lets the songs from one of the era’s most influential bands tell the story. But what drives the film is Jude and Lucy’s love for each other—and all you need is love right? You know you are in for something different when indie darling Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen) is the most recognizable star. Luckily for Across the Universe the cast of unknowns delivers--and then some. Making his film debut newcomer Sturgess is a particular standout looking very much like one of the Beatles boys in their heyday. His earnest performance as the love-struck Jude immediately hits a chord (pun intended) and he makes breaking out into a Beatles tune seem entirely natural. Wood doesn’t seem as comfortable with the vocals but the actress has a lovely voice--and of course handles Lucy’s emotional ups and downs with aplomb. All the rest of the supporting cast does a wonderful job adding their own unique reinterpretations to the songs (and yes both “Hey Jude” and “Dear Prudence” pop up). The big fun with Across the Universe however are the cameo appearances: Eddie Izzard sings “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” as a surreal circus ringleader; Joe Cocker sings “Come Together” alternating between a pimp bum and hippie; Salma Hayek takes nursing to a new level in a “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” number; and finally U2’s Bono sings “I Am the Walrus” as the Beat poet/counterculturist Dr. Robert. You haven’t experienced life until you've heard Bono sing “Goo goo g'joob.” In any original musical there is always something a little disconcerting when a character just breaks out into song even if it’s Julie Andrews standing on top of a mountain. But as with Moulin Rouge a character singing a song we all recognize--well that’s a little different. And honestly who doesn’t love Beatles music? Still director Julie Taymor (Frida) took a big chance creating a musical around the legacy that is Beatlemania. It must have been a daunting task searching through the annals of Beatles music to find just the right tunes for just the right moment--but her extremely inventive ways truly pay off. From Uncle Sam screaming “I Want You!” from a poster hanging in an Army recruiting office to Max and his college buddies running around campus belting out “With a Little Help from My Friends ” everything fits taking us on this journey of life love and self-enlightenment. Although Taymor’s forte clearly lies with the very wild and artistic most evident in Across the Universe’s psychedelic acid trips she also expertly highlights the stark reality of a turbulent time. Taymor is a romantic at heart though—a romantic who adores the Beatles. John Lennon would be proud.
Top Story: O.J. Simpson Angry at Dead Wife
O.J. Simpson tells Fox News Channel's On the Record host Greta Van Susteren that he is mad at his dead ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. "There are things that she could be doing with the kids better than I, you know? When, it's emotional stuff, especially with my daughter, I am angry with her," the former football star said in excerpts released by the cable channel Thursday. "I am angry that she found herself hanging out with the group of ... who are these people?" The sit-down interview, conducted in a Florida hotel, is set to air in full on Monday's edition of On the Record. Simpson, 56, was acquitted of murder charges in the June 12, 1994 double murder of Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Although he was found liable for their deaths in a civil trial brought by the families of the murder victims in 1997, Simpson has consistently maintained his innocence, claiming his ex-wife mingled with the wrong crowd and fell victim to a world of crime and drugs. After the trial, Simpson, who lives on a $4 million pension that is exempt from civil court judgments, relocated his family from California to Miami.
Juliette Lewis Desperately Seeking Chihuahua
Juliette Lewis tells Entertainment Weekly she is considering seeing a pet psychic to find out what happened to her Chihuahua, Chowie, who was snatched from her back yard seven years ago. "As crazy as that is," she tells the magazine, "I want to go to her (the pet psychic) and say, 'Where is my Chowie? Is he reincarnated? And how can I find him?'" Lewis' band The Licks is performing at the Warped Tour starting June 25.
Sotheby's To Auction Hepburn's Estate
Items from Katharine Hepburn's estate will be auctioned next week at the New York auction house Sotheby's, Reuters reports. Hepburn's white crushed-velvet dress she wore for her 1928 marriage to Ludlow Ogden Smith is expected to fetch up to $3,500. The pair split after six years and although Hepburn never remarried, she was later linked to Howard Hughes and Spencer Tracy, with whom she had a 27-year relationship. Other top items in the sale include manuscripts, photos, letters, furniture, a telegram announcing her birth, a Toulouse-Lautrec print, nearly 100 drawings and paintings by Hepburn and a bronze African mask of which she was particularly fond. Hepburn, a four-time Oscar winner, died last June in Connecticut at 96. The sale is expected to bring in about $1 million with proceeds going to Hepburn's family. Her four Oscar statues will be donated elsewhere.
Bill Clinton Launches Book Tour
Former President Bill Clinton launched his book tour yesterday for his soon-to-be published 1,000-page memoir My Life, which bookstores June 22. The two-term president told a bookseller's convention in Chicago that although he never suffered writer's block, he had to stop for a few hours because of renewed anger at special prosecutor Kenneth Starr's treatment of his Arkansas friends. "Things I thought I wasn't mad at, I got mad about all over again," he said. Clinton, however, made did not mention Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern at the center of the sex scandal that dominated much of his second term.
Arrested Gets Kudos from TV Critics
Fox's critically acclaimed comedy Arrested Development topped the 2004 Television Critics Association nominations, leading the pack with five nods including best comedy series, Reuters reports. Other perennial favorites to snag nominations included HBO's series The Sopranos and Deadwood as well as their miniseries Angels in America and Comedy Central's The Daily Show. The winners, selected by the Television Critics Association's 200 members, will be announced July 17 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, with Bill Maher tapped to open the ceremony.
Motown Comes to NBC
NBC is developing a 12-hour series about the famed Motown Records music empire and its founder, Berry Gordy, AP reports. Berry Gordy's Motown will dramatize Gordy's rise from Detroit's inner city to the head of an entertainment empire with artists that included Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, and Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, the network said Thursday. It's expected to air in the 2005-06 season.
Role Call: Kidman Pads Up for Producers Role, Columbia Eyes Israeli Spy Thriller
Stick-thin Nicole Kidman will need a little help making the transformation to a buxom Swedish secretary for her next role, starring with Matthew Broderick in the film version of Mel Brooks' stage hit The Producers. "Mel says we'll pad her," Broderick told Reuters. Broderick will be reprising his role as meek accountant Leo Bloom in The Producers opposite Nathan Lane, who created the stage role of devious Broadway producer Max Bialystock ... Boys Don't Cry director Kimberly Peirce will helm a film about the legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen for Columbia Pictures. Variety reports Cohen was an Israeli spy who infiltrated the Syrian government. He was discovered and hanged in 1965, but the information he provided was largely responsible for Israel's capture of the Golan Heights in 1967. The film will focus on Cohen's double life as a businessman/spy, spouse/lover as well as someone who knew the Koran as well as the Talmud.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
December 13, 2002 4:56am EST
As Star Trek: Nemesis begins its journey the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise is enjoying Officer William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi's (Marina Sirtis) wedding reception. But the celebrations come to halt when Engineer La Forge (Levar Burton) detects some sort of electromagnetic signal coming from the nearby planet Kolaris III. A crew from the Enterprise heads to the planet to investigate and finds scattered body parts of what looks like an android prototype of Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Before they can put the android back together again Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) receives a message from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) that the Romulans have undergone a revolution and their new Praetor (leader) wants to discuss peace with the Federation. But when a hesitant Picard and his crew arrive on the planet they discover that the Praetor Shinzon (Tom Hardy) is not actually a Romulan but a human from Romulus' sister planet Remus. And not only is he human--he's a younger clone of Picard. Shinzon is hell-bent on revenge and wants to destroy everything in his path including the Enterprise the Federation and Earth but first he has a score to settle with Picard. Meanwhile Data struggles with what to make of his own double B-4.
Stewart's Picard faces his most personal enemy here in Shinzon and must grapple with heavy moral issues. Although Shinzon is maniacal and antagonistic Picard cannot help but wonder if he would have turned out the same way had his life been like Shinzon's. Stewart delivers a great performance as his character finds his judgement clouded by Shinzon. Shinzon as played by Hardy (Black Hawk Down) with a shaved head and a sculpted latex nose and chin is believable as Picard's doppelganger (although I hate to say that with the pale skin and scarred lip he looks an awful lot like Mike Myers's Dr. Evil). While Picard and Shinzon are dealing with their own issues Spiner's Data is going through his own personal turmoil. His prototype recovered on Kolaris III B-4 is not as advanced as he is prompting Data to turn him into a better android. Not since the Star Trek TNG episode "The Measure of Man" has Data's character been explored so in depth. Cast members Frakes Sirtis Burton and Michael Dorn (Worf) take a back seat in Nemesis allowing the film to focus on the main story line involving Picard Shinzon and Data.
Nemesis was directed by Star Trek newcomer Stuart Baird who stays true to the franchise's tradition by delivering a film that encapsulates a good story with great dialogue without going overboard on the special effects. As the film opens for example the crew has been forced to land on Kolaris III the old-fashioned way since an ion storm has disrupted transporting capabilities. Baird provides some great footage of the planet's surface which is bathed in sepia-toned light complete with the some great shots of the crew riding around in the Argo a sort of high-tech dune buggy. Scribe John Logan (Time Machine) introduces an interesting new race the Remans and a personal foe with Shinzon who although not as menacing as the Borg or as complex as Kahn is just as warped. The most compelling aspect of the film however has to do with Data and his desire to be the best "person" he can be. Nemesis encompasses the kind of dramatic storytelling that made the series created by Gene Roddenberry more than 25 years ago so intriguing. It is also a reminder of what the series was all about: "To explore strange new worlds to seek out new life and new civilization..."